Need raise and want tip, your thoughts?

Received Tuesday, May 18, 2010
perspective and opinion I have worked for a family in Manhattan with three little ones for about a year and a half. I have watched them grow and loved every minute of it. I am extremely hard working.

Last December, I went on a 14 day trip with this family of three (ages 16 months, 3 and 4 at the time). I am a christian and my family tends to see Christmas as a big family holiday, but I put that aside this year because I needed the money for school (this family is Jewish and had already finished celebrating Hannakah before we left; and they were aware that Christmas was at least slightly important to me.) The trip was from December 15 to December 28. I had been offered $100 a day which seemed low to me (especially with 3 young kids), but I had been on one other trip with them, a three day weekend, which went well, and where I had a two/three hour break in the afternoon (I would wake up around 7 with the kids, work until maybe 1, have a break until 3/3:30, and help until 7:30; a total of 9/10 hours, expenses paid. I did not have my own room, but rather a room adjacent to the children. (I also have 8 years experience and am CPR certified for the record!) During the trip in December, I was not given this afternoon time off regularly. I would wake up with the kids around 7 (sometimes 6), or even be woken sporadically at night by the baby, work until 2, and would rarely get 1 hour for a break, before I was on again until 8/8:30. I slept in the living room on the fold out couch. When Christmas rolled around, I was given an extra 45 minutes off at night. Three seperate times the parents went out at night, so I had to work those hours as well. When time came to be paid, to be honest, I was kind of hoping for some kind of tip. They HAD given me a yearly holiday bonus of $150 three weeks prior, yet I was hoping for something, even a mere $20 for working on a Holiday. Yet nothing.

During the year I am paid $15 an hour and work for them about 20 hours a week; I am called a 'babysitter' by them, not a nanny.

Two questions:
1) What is a good rate (an average rate, nothing super exciting) to pay a Manhattan babysitter who goes on a trip with you a day other than all expenses? I have a friend who makes $160 for two kids, and another that makes $110 for three and another that makes $225 for three... so it is very hard for me to gauge. This is taking into consideration that at least one parent is hands on with you for maybe half of the day. (Preparing breakfast for the kids while the parents sleep in, getting them dressed, getting together snacks, water and sunscreen, etc, taking them to the lake with the parents, playing with them with the parents, putting down one for her nap while the dad puts down the middle son for a nap, more play, helping prepare and feed dinner, bathing all three by myself, helping with bedtime routine as well as light housework, like loading and unloading the dishwaher and tidying up.)

2) Is it wrong of me to hope that I might be tipped on a Holiday I celebrate (and they know I celebrate)?


Village said...

No, I don't think it was wrong to expect it, but it might have been a better idea to have negotiated a double rate for Christmas, $200 a day.

I would also suggest no more paying by the day. Tell them you are a babysitter who is paid by the hour, $15 an hour. That is about 13 hours a day. That's a lot to ask of one person. If they want a fixed price, don't do it for less than $200 a day. It sounds like you are on call for basically 24 hours a day, and for $200, that's about 8 bucks a hour.

They got a GREAT deal. At $100 a day, they paid you about $4 an hour. Yes, you should have gotten a tip.

Nannyhasadayoff said...

When I travel with my Manhattan family, I get my normal rate of $25 an hour for the 12-15 hours the kids are awake, plus $100 a night, so $400-$475 a day. This is for 2 year old twins who sleep through the night. Sometimes I share their room, other times I have my own and have the monitor. I get some help from the parents (we normally have meals together, although I'm still in charge when the parents are there), plus at nap time, we have a babysitter who comes and listens out while I have some time off and usually stays until the kids go to bed or into the evening of I want to go out. The family pay for everything, including room service etc, so I have no expenses at all. On holidays, I get double time; if I had to work Christmas day, I would charge triple time.

Underpaid much said...

I think you were grossly underpaid for the trip (why should you not get paid your hourly rate while on vacation?). I also think the appropriate time to raise that issue would have been when they were paying you or, ideally, before you left. But at least you'll know for next time. I worked on Thanksgiving, and didn't expect to get a tip, because I chose to work. I mean, they needed someone, but I could have said no, because like you, I'm part-time and paid hourly. I wouldn't work on a holiday that was really important to me, though, and that might be where they were coming from too, since Orthodox Jews (not sure if they are) don't work on holidays.

Manhattan Nanny said...

In Manhattan, $15 an hour for three young children is on the low side for a qualified nanny. I don't think it matters that you are PT, and they call you a babysitter. The duties you describe are those of a nanny.

For overnights, or travel, I charge my hourly rate for the time I am on duty, plus an overnight fee of $100-$150, depending on whether there is a child who wakes during the night, say for a feeding.

I think it is too late to do anything about the past trip. You agreed to take this job over Christmas, with a family that doesn't celebrate it. That was your choice, so I don't think it is fair to resent them for not giving you the day off. Chalk it up to experience, and next time, discuss in detail your pay, schedule and living arrangements before you agree to go. It is difficult, but you have to speak up!

nycmom said...

We have traveled with a few different nannies. I have 3 kids, but my older two are 8 and 10yo so fairly independent. I've learned the most important thing is to define absolutely everything, in writing, ahead of travel and make sure we both agree. This includes: hours on duty, overnight expectations, sleeping arrangments, job description while traveling, and of course pay.

I have also hired weekend nannies/sitters in Manhattan before so have paid a 24 hour rate there too.

Here are the average numbers I have paid for full charge nanny, not getting a separate room while we travel, but of course separate bed. Of course, all expenses related to travel and food are paid by us. Travel time is paid if nanny is working. We are around and helping, and pretty much always give our nanny a few hours completely off during the day. Also, she is usually only with one or two of the kid. But I pay for all hours with the understanding that should it be needed, she would work all of them.

$300/day if our nanny is "on duty" and in full care of the kids for full 24 hours
$225/day if our nanny is working roughly 8am-11pm, but not expected to get up for the 9 or so sleep hours.

I guess this comes out to roughly $15/hr for awake and $75/hr for overnight. FWIW when I've advertised these positions on sittercity, I've always had way more qualified applicants than I could imagine (even during the economic good times). So I think these are at least reasonable market rates. I do have friends who just do a flat weekly rate and in that case it seems common to pay 1.5x-2X weekly salary.

Anonymous said...

Thank you guys so much; I have babysat for many years but had never gone on a trip before. I am also in school, getting my Masters and I think I was excited for a chance to earn money toward my student loans/future tuition payments. I had no idea I was being so underpaid. I'm not bitter about the trip (although I was pretty upset at first), it's just frustrating that my naivety was taken advantage of.:( But I am better prepared for next time.:) I still welcome any other comments, all of this is very very interesting to me; the more knowledge I have on the subject the better prepared I will be to approach them.

anonynanny said...

Just a note-- the parents might not have any clue that they're underpaying. Or they might have friends who deliberately underpay, and asked their advice. I wouldn't write off the family completely.

Katlee85 said...


I don't know if you have a contract with them, since they classify you as a babysitter, but I recommend you sit down with them and draw one up that you can all agree to, and make sure it includes travel.

MissMannah said...

I can't say much about pay because I don't live out east, but this seems like such a "well duh" situation for me. Why the heck would you not be paid your normal hourly rate when on vacation? Logically you should be paid more hourly because you don't have any of the comforts of home, including a real BED. If it was me, I don't think I'd agree to another family vacation with them.